Monday, July 2, 2012

sugar and spice and everything nice...

Upon finding out what I do for a living, I often hear people ask incredulously: 'You?  You're a fireman?'.  To which I simply answer 'yup'.  There are moments I feel like I want to prove to these people that yes, I am a fireman and a perfectly capable one at that but usually I just let it slide.  If they don't believe my gender, and stature can fill those big boots then there is no point in proving to them that I can. I mean, I know I can so that is all that matters. And I have to admit that I secretly smile inwardly when I am on scene and slugging away doing my job like a badass and I remove my helmet and hear joe public's gasp 'it's a firelady!'.  It's just so satisfying  lol   So what is the difference between a fireman and a firewoman?  Apart from the obvious dude body and chick body thing, I have yet to figure out the inherent difference.   The women hired on the job are females, but not girlie-girls if you know what I mean.   We can keep up with the banter and wit, swear like drunken sailors, and shovel just as much food down as the guys.  We passed the same physical, drive the same trucks, and haul around the same equipment.  We hold steady just like the guys and for those naysayers that think we are all emotional, think again. I think coming into this job you learn to keep your emotions in check.   To show a chink in the armor would be social suicide. But in reality, I think any emotions we may feel as women, be it insecurity or  moments of self-doubt, men feel the exact same thing. It's how we express it might be different. I think women have no problem in saying they made a mistake. We have no problem in saying sorry. And I think we are quicker to drop grudges.  I think it is because the competition or the challenge of the job is with ourselves, the woman, as opposed to proving we are better than all the men we work with.  Truth be told, I've always been my own worst critic, so any criticism received from guys is child's play because I've analyzed and dissected my position from every angle possible.  I do have to say it is a very special feeling forging the path for the next generation of female firefighters. It was unheard of when I was a child.  I was always a bit of a misfit growing up and growing up in rural Ottawa I hated being different. I wanted blond hair and blue eyes and wear twirly dresses like all the girls I went to school with. But now I love being different and standing slightly offset from the rest of the crowd, marching to the beat of my own heart and drum.   This post is for my daughter. Chase your dreams my Maiya.  Be courageous and fierce and loving and kind.  Be different, think laterally, and most of all, don't be swayed by the doubters and the haters, and don't listen to the noise all around you. The only voice you have to listen to is the song in your heart.

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